Richards on the way, if Rangers pay

If I heard it once, I heard it a dozen times during this Entry Draft weekend in Minnesota: “[Brad] Richards told [X] he wants to come to New York.”

And this, too: “Slats [general manager Glen Sather] is going to blow his brains out to sign Richards.”

To which I respond: If Richards “wants to come to New York,” $32.5 million over five years — starting at $11 million this year to protect against a potential future rollback — should be enough money and enough of a commitment for him to achieve his dream.

And this: If Sather does indeed “blow his brains out to sign Richards,” to borrow from the vernacular, then the GM truly will have lost his mind.

The risk/reward line is hazy enough on a five-year front-loaded contract offer at $6.5 million per for this 31-year-old center coming off a concussion. But it represents a gamble worth taking given Richards’ elite skills, relationship with coach John Tortorella and ability to fill the massive hole in the middle of the first line and to quarterback the power play from the point.

For the Rangers to even think of giving Richards the eight years and $50 million to $55 million that apparently will be the starting point of negotiations when the market opens on Friday is so far off the charts, it shouldn’t even be a consideration for a franchise that has been burned over and over and over again on long-term, pricey contracts for free agents who all “wanted to come to New York.”

Don’t read this as an attack on Richards, for he’s not positioning himself any differently than any other player has in dealing with the Rangers. It’s just, when is enough, enough, and especially for a player who has already earned close to $50 million in his career, and has spent the greater part of the last eight months telling friends he wants to play in New York?

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